The Center for Interfaith Relations is revisiting Festival of Faiths catalogues in search of insight, wisdom and inspiration. Our hope is that these written words will spur meaningful reflection and serve as a beacon of hope amid challenging times.

“Spend Your Dollars With Your Children in Mind” by J. Henry Fair

From the 2014 Festival of Faiths, “Sacred Earth | Sacred Self”

I write this after a month of repeated trips over the British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and it cannot help but have an emotional effect. Now, if I have to drive somewhere, I feel guilty. I cant bear to drink from a plastic water bottle knowing that oil equaling roughly one-third of the volume of that water bottle was used to get it into my hands. One of my responses to the Gulf gusher is to hitchhike. Why burn gas to get from train station to home (a prosperous suburban area outside NYC)? Usually I have no problem, but last night at 10 p.m., my good neighbors paraded by in their SUVs, shaking their heads at this impetuous ruffian who would dare to degrade their property values by exhibiting this bohemian behavior. Coughing in their exhaust plumes, I wondered how they could not see their complicity in the Gulf.  

I’m constantly amazed by the willingness of people to ignore the consequences of their actions and the real risks to their health and wellbeing. Most of us live in a world of indulgences, all of which have an environmental cost that will be passed on to our children. “The environment” is the system that supports life, our life. But those who are concerned about it, who speak up about it, are relegated to the status of zealots and simpletons. “Things are too complicated,” we are told. “We can’t change our economy, business will suffer, jobs will be lost.” Meanwhile, the system that provides us with the air and water we need to live is going into cardiac arrest. I believe that we could very easily change the direction of our society and economy toward sustainability with nothing but benefits to our children, ourselves, and our economy. The only losers would be those currently making fortunes from destruction and exploitation. We have the power. Spend your dollars with your children in mind.